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304SS and W2 San-Mai Utility Knife


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Hi All.  I thought I would share the pics I took along the way of making this commissioned piece.  On the rare occasion I take on a commission, I like to take plenty of photos along the way to share with the customer.  The knife is done, and the customer took delivery today, but it'll take me a while to load up all the photos.

 

Here is where it all started:

AA Initial Sketch.jpg

 

The style/design is a bit strange, but the client had some pretty specific requests.  It's not worth debating the design here, but if you are curious about the origin, here is an earlier post about it: https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/40610-looking-for-help-with-a-utility-hunter-design/

 

I wanted to make this one with 304ss clad on either side of a piece of W2 to see if I could do it.  Here is the starting stock:

 

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Then the obligatory TIG welding around the perimeter to seal it all up:

 

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I MIGed on a handle (I forge weld better than I MIG weld.  Don't judge me :) )

 

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Then it was into the forge to get nice and toasty.  I can get my forge up to about 2300F on a good day, and in this case I got it as hot as I could, and held it there for 15 to 20 minutes to make sure it was heated through.

 

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Artistic forge door shot:

 

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Eventually, it was squishy  time with the press.  I tend to set the weld with a light touch, and then put it back the forge to soak a bit before getting a bit more aggressive with reducing the thickness.  Even at that, I take the first several passes pretty easy so that the weld gets a lot of time at temperature to diffuse.

 

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Edited by Brian Dougherty
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I forget how far I stretched this out in the welding pass, but you can see the bar here:

 

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I ended up with a weld flaw in the middle of the bar that I could see as a shadow.  However, I had way more steel than needed so I forged this down closer to the final width of the knife.

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I mostly created the profile by grinding, but I did have to do a bit of forging to get the shark fin how I wanted it, and to get the distal taper in such a way that I wouldn't loos all the 304 by grinding it in.  I watched closely on the last forging steps to make sure I wasn't getting to far off center with the core.

 

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Pre-heat treat.  It looks like I didn't grind the bevels until after heat treating.  Honestly I don't remember.  If that is the case though, I am wondering why I bothered with the anti-scale...

 

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I always send lots of pics of the hand work to the client...

 

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I made the bolsters out of nickel silver.  I simply superglued a couple of patterns to a bar of stock

 

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And cut them out...

 

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I superglue one of them to the blade, and drill through the holes in the tang for some pins.

 

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Then I superglue the other bolster in place and drill back through the first bolster to put matching holes in second one.  You can see the two drilled bolsters here after I had taken them off the blade.

 

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I like to ream pin holes when I want to make sure the pins disappear when peened.  I had drilled the holes a few thousandths undersized to allow the reamer to clean up the holes.

 

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Now I can pin the two bolsters together and start filing them to shape.

 

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With lots of test fitting as I go...

 

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I wanted to solder the bolsters on as well as pin them.  This probably isn't necessary at all, but I can do it so I did.  It actually makes peening the pins for the bolsters much less stressful for me.  Soldering to 304ss is a bit tricky.  You have to use a good flux, but I just used simple 2% silver bearing solder.

 

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Then it is time to peen in the pins.  Before peening, I ran a tapered reamer into the holes from each side to create a good mechanical lock.  Then it was death by a thousand blows with my mighty peening hammer!

 

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A little work with some files, and the pins disappeared.  There are a couple of different nickel silver alloys out there that are common.  In a situation like this, you have to make sure the pins and bolsters are the same, or the pins will definitely show.

 

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The customer wanted to supply the wood for the handle.  In this case, he had a piece of saluted persimmon that also had some interesting grain.  He brought over a big hunk, and I managed to find a couple of nice pairs of scales inside.  (This knife is a graduation present for his oldest son.  He has another son, so I made sure to get a second set of similar scales)

 

I had to dry the wood, and then stabilize it to make it durable enough for a handle.

 

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Then it was just cutting out, attaching, and shaping the scales in the usual manner:

 

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I do most of the shaping with files and rasps.  I screw handles up way too quickly with the grinder :(

 

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Then it was time for a sheath.  I spent most of the last year making folding knives, and my mediocre leather skills got quite rusty.  I pulled out something serviceable in the end, but it isn't the hand tooled masterpiece I had once envisioned :D

 

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And finally a few glamor shots.  This was technically a commission, but mostly a labor of love.  The customer has been a friend for over 40 years, and his eldest son is the only person I have held as a baby other than my own children.  (Babies are oozy messes and I don't like to touch them)

 

There wasn't a very big budget to work with, but I felt compelled to fill in the gaps on this one a bit.

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Thanks for following along!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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Well done.

The only other thing I can say is, if you want a more uniform transition line between the SS and the core, do less forging and more grinding.

Edited by Joshua States
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